Sales enablement is a very fluid concept in today’s business world. It can involve a wide, wide range of activities — anything from content creation to analysis and reporting to hands-on training.
However, at its core the purpose behind sales enablement is simple. It is designed to “[equip] your sales team with [the] strategic resources it needs to excel, from tools to technology to content and beyond.”
Put another way, it involves all the behind-the-scenes work it takes to make your sales team thrive.
Does sales enablement work? In a nutshell: absolutely! In fact, one study found that companies with effective programs enjoy:
- 23% higher lead conversion rate
- 24% higher sales quota achievement rate for individuals
- 32% higher sales quota achievement rate for teams
Clearly, sales enablement is a big deal. When implemented properly, it can serve as the driving force behind more leads, more conversions, as well as more sales.
This is where the sales enablement specialist comes into the picture. What exactly does this role entail? What skills are required to succeed? Let’s dig into these questions in the information below, and see what we can find!
The Responsibilities of a Sales Enablement Specialist
It’s important to note right off the bat that sales enablement roles can differ greatly from one organization to another. For example, one specialist may be part of a small team dedicated to optimizing the sales process for the entire company. Another specialist may be focused on mentoring reps in a hands-on fashion. It really depends on the needs, culture, as well as goals of the business.
That being said, there are several common responsibilities associated with the role of a sales enablement specialist across the board. These may include:
1. Acting as a liaison between the sales, marketing, and product teams, and senior management.
A sales enablement specialist is interested in clearly defining the purpose and scope of sales support initiatives and making sure that all departments are aligned toward the same objectives.
2. Creating content specific to the sales team.
A big part of the sales enablement specialist’s role is to create helpful content for the company’s front-line sales reps. For instance, pieces of content like case studies and competitive information fact sheets can help sales reps convince and convert vacillating prospects with hard data. And ultimately close more deals.
3. Training and mentoring sales reps on how to use sales enablement content.
The specialist may also help reps to understand best practices around the use of marketing/sales enablement materials. Some specialists will go beyond a classroom setting to deliver this training; they will also mentor reps by example (for instance, by taking the lead on sales calls as needed).
4. Organizing and optimizing sales enablement content.
Specialists often serve as de facto “librarians”. They regularly check the company’s content library to ensure that sales-centric articles are up-to-date, accurate, as well as easily accessible for use in the field.
5. Conducting market research and gathering feedback.
A specialist is also concerned with constantly optimizing the entire sales process. In practice, this means that the specialist will periodically conduct market research (via surveys, focused interviews, etc.). And report on his or her findings. In addition, the specialist will regularly check in with the sales team for feedback. And make recommendations for improvement from the insights gleaned.
Key Skills of a Sales Enablement Specialist
As you can tell, a typical sales enablement specialist has a lot to juggle on a daily basis! With that in mind, it’s no wonder that the most successful professionals in this field carry a unique skill set with them. For instance:
Listening and Communication
Sales enablement specialists must be above-average communicators, both in terms of listening to understand, and speaking/writing in a clear way. After all, if a specialist wants everyone on board with a new initiative, then he or she has to make sure that everyone understands what’s expected of them!
Organization and Time Management
Professionals in the sales enablement field absolutely have to prioritize tasks by order of importance. They may have many “irons in the fire” at the same time. They have to distinguish which projects are mission-critical for the company, and which ones are not quite as crucial. (Simple example: a training program projected to boost sales by 10% is probably more important than a new blog post scheduled for publication three months down the road.)
Sales enablement specialists talk with a lot of people within their organization every day. As in, a lot of people. These people will range from senior executives to mid-level managers to entry-level sales reps. All with their own distinct personalities and communication styles. As you can imagine, a sales enablement specialist needs to “play well with others” in order to succeed. At the same time, a good specialist will remember that the two most important groups that his/her role should benefit are the customers and the company’s salespeople.
Strategic, Long-Term Thinking
Some people may misunderstand the role of a sales enablement specialist. And think that it’s all about “putting out fires” and getting small wins for the sales team. While those aspects are not entirely non-existent within the parameters of the job, the reality is that sales enablement specialists are strategy-driven. In other words, they want to identify tools and processes that will help the sales team long-term. And then work to implement what they find. That means that sales enablement specialists love metrics and data. Numbers don’t lie. And if the data is clearly pointing in one direction, then the sales enablement specialist will do whatever it takes to get the organization to follow.
Granted, these are just a few of the key skills a specialist needs to really leave a mark on the company. And again: every company will have different needs to fill in terms of sales enablement.